Local farmers will demonstrate better practices to protect fish and fish habitats in rivers and creeks, in a new project centred on Oyster Harbour. The project is a continuation of Fish Friendly Farms, a successful program from the Eastern States, which will be delivered in partnership between South Coast Natural Resource Management, Recfishwest and Ozfish Unlimited.
Native fish populations throughout Australia have suffered serious declines in both distribution and abundance. For many species this is largely due to the loss and degradation of their habitat and poor environmental condition of waterways.
Historically, the link between farming practices and fish habitat has not always been well understood or communicated. Some farming practices can be detrimental to both farm productivity and fish habitat. For example clearing vegetation near the edge of the water contributes to erosion, the loss of soils and nutrients and may cause instability of riverbanks and declines in water quality. Maintaining healthy fish habitat and good water quality is essential to supporting sustainable fisheries.
“Managing and protecting riparian vegetation has a direct impact on the health of waterways and the estuaries they flow into. This project will provide local farmers with the knowledge and support to better look after the rivers and creeks that flow through their properties and enhance fish habitat,” said Dylan Gleave, the Coastal Marine and Water Program Leader at South Coast NRM.
As part of the project two demonstration sites will be selected for restoration. These sites will have direct frontage onto a river or creek within the catchment of Oyster Harbour. At each site, the project will fund activities that enhance and protect fish habitat and water quality. These may include fencing, erosion control, the provision of alternate watering points for stock, revegetation and invasive weed control.
Recfishwest Habitat Officer and Ozfish Unlimited representative Michael Tropiano said many farmers enjoy fishing for bream and marron and have a really strong connection to their local river. “This project is a great opportunity for local farmers to learn a bit more about the things that make a healthy fishery and give them the chance to contribute to a better fishing future, especially in their local area,” Michael said.
Farmers, fishers and other interested members of the community who want to be involved in the project are invited to attend an information night where the scientific background and management practices involved in fish friendly farming will be presented. It will be held at the Albany Boating and Offshore Fishing Club on Thursday the 16th of March at 6pm.
This project was made possible by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and is supported by Recfishwest and the WA Department of Fisheries.
Pic 1: A stretch of healthy riverbank vegetation on the Kalgan River, providing important habitat for local fish species and enhancing water quality.
Pic 2: Bank stabilisation and re-vegetation can help to reduce erosion, increase the amount of oxygen in the water, and keeps water temperatures down.